Consumers shopping for flooring can be forgiven if they assume “CFS” is some new TV crime show spin-off coming this fall. Most likely, the typical shopper has no idea what this acronym really means. That’s understandable. But if you are in the business of selling flooring, you most certainly should know what “CFS” stands for: It stands for integrity and it stands for expertise in flooring. Most importantly, it stands for the future our industry. It would be a crime for anyone in our business to overlook the growing significance of these three letters.

“CFS,” of course is short for “Certified Flooring Sales Consultant.” Launched by World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) about five years ago, it has been a hugely important program. Now, a recently finalized agreement that includes three of the heavyweights of our industry means it will grown bigger and take on even greater significance. Armstrong World Industries, CCA Global Partners and Mohawk Industries have agreed to incorporate the WFCA certification program as part of their respective educational programs. Clearly, this means the WFCA program is well on its way to becoming the industry standard. That is very good news indeed.

When the “CFS” designation appears after someone’s name it confirms that they are a bona fide flooring pro. They have successful completed the WFCA’s certification program and have demonstrated their knowledge on a written examination. It’s not a program that teaches people how to sell. It’s focused on what they sell. The characteristics of every floor type and their specific installation requirements; why one type of flooring will work where another may fail. And of course, that age old head-scratcher: What exactly do they mean by “luxury vinyl tile (LVT).”     

The WFCA’s Certification Program has been around since 2002. In addition to certification for salespeople there is CFE (Certified Flooring Executive) for top management and CFP (Certified Flooring Professional) for cleaners, inspectors and other non-retailers. These are programs that recognize that flooring is highly unique and complex enterprise that demands knowledge both technical and aesthetic. Even those who have been in the business for years can greatly benefit from these educational initiatives.

The WFCA’s decision to expand the program could not come at a better time. Our industry has been hurt by a soft real estate market. Fewer homes are being built or remodeled and that means demand for new residential flooring has slackened considerably. But taking a classic “turn-lemons-into-lemonade approach,” the real flooring pros see the sour business conditions as a chance to leverage their biggest advantage: floor covering know-how. Those retailers committed to quality flooring and expert installations offer a level of expertise that sets them apart. 

That point was clearly on the mind of Bob Hill when he helped engineer the agreement to widen the CFS program. Hill, the president of Floor Covering Associates, Inc., in Naperville, Ill. orchestrated the cooperative agreement while he was serving as chairman of the WFCA. No doubt he was drawing on this experience as a highly accomplished floor covering pro when he communicated the No.1 benefit.

“It is another important tool to help independent retailers differentiate themselves from home centers and online stores,” said Hill. “With the vast number of new products and methods available today, floor covering is no longer a simple consumer product.”

Although one could argue that flooring has never really been a “simple consumer product,” Hill’s point is well taken. There is no question the products our industry offers have become far more complicated and wide ranging; and so too has the playing field. The hands reaching for a slice of the pie include big box retailers and internet-only outfits that sell flooring the way a fast food joint sells burgers. Flooring pros know that products so crucial to a home’s décor deserve much better-and so does the WFCA.